17 May 2014

Kenya: 'I Feel Terrible About Anglo Leasing,'Says Kenyatta

PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta says he felt terrible paying Sh1.4 billion for a manifestly corrupt deal which the Office of the Attorney General failed to defend Kenya against.

During a press conference at State House yesterday, Uhuru announced an impending shake-up of his government to fire some, retire some and move others to areas of their proven competence.

He said the State Law Office (the other name for the AG's office) must up their game as Kenya cannot continue to bear the brunt of their inability to block fictitious payment demands such as those for Anglo Leasing.

He told the AG's team that, going forward, they "must win" their cases.

He was responding to queries on whether paying the Sh1.4 billion to First Mercantile Securities Corporation would not open the floodgates for other Anglo Leasing-type companies to sue.

"Terrible, terrible! Terrible is how I feel," he retorted.

He acknowledged that the 2006 Report of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee he chaired condemned the payments. He however said that, at the time, he was an opposition leader. He said he is now President, with bigger responsibilities and many more considerations to take into account.

"I stand by what I said then. I do not disown any word of it. I still believe in it. However, the circumstances obtaining now demand we act in the greater good, which is to pay even as we continue to follow up on the matter."

He said Kenyans must appreciate that the case was lost in the courts, not in parliament. The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission as well as parliament should start a fresh probe on the payments. He did not say what would become of the request now pending in parliament to authorize the payments.

Uhuru hinted the impending shake-up of government will include the security sector. Saying there are many retired generals and police officers consulting and advising the government, he observed that those who leave can choose to follow in their footsteps.

"There are those who have served well, but whom we feel are not able to serve in the direction we want to take the country. They will have to leave. And there are those who will be fired for incompetence and corruption," he said.

The president denied the Council of Governors claims that he was undermining devolution following his Wednesday move to delegate more powers to County Commissioners. He said he was only "filling the service delivery gap".

"We are not fighting for control, we are not preoccupied with control," he said.

He condemned yesterday's terror attacks, which took place as he was speaking live on TV, and pledged to do everything in his power to stem such atrocities. He also denounced the travel advisories issued by the British government cautioning their nationals visiting Kenya. He described the advisories as only serving to strengthen the will of terrorists as opposed to helping Kenyans.

He said the government will continue to market the country to other markets.

"We can also say that there is no need to travel out there and travel within. We can enjoy our own products. Kenya will move on," he said.

He said Kenya's Intelligence network had assured him that there was no likelihood of attacks such as those hinted at in the travel advisories, unless there was some information that British Intelligence had refused to share.

Uhuru indicated the ongoing security operation nationwide will continue. He said the recently-signed five-year contract between the government and Safaricom to provide a state-of-the-art surveillance system will be a game changer.

He denied recent media reports that the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit had received only Sh28 million in this year's budget, saying the amount only covers its office operations.

Turning to the recent appointment of Nelson Githinji as National Youth Service director, Uhuru said it neither proves nor disproves claims that senior appointments are being taken up by only one tribe, and government daily deals with hundreds of thousands of officials.

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